The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. Sadly, access to the ballot box hasn’t always been guaranteed. From the 15th Amendment to the women’s suffrage movement to the Indian Citizenship Act, the struggle for voting rights has been one of the hallmarks of our shared history.
That struggle is far from over.
Today, the Voting Rights Act is under attack, with states across the country working to undo decades of progress through things like stricter voter-ID laws and the closing of polling stations. These policies put young voters—and especially those from historically marginalized communities—squarely in the crosshairs.
One way we can fight back is by making Time Off to Vote.
What does that mean, exactly? Time Off to Vote is based on four central pillars:
- It takes place annually (either nationally or on the state level).
- It happens around Election day and/or the early voting period.
- It’s acknowledged through time off from school and/or work.
- It gives people space to engage in civic activities—including voting, serving as a poll worker, and volunteering.
Adopting TOTV would increase voter turnout. That, in turn, will make the process more inclusive, more representative, and more legitimate.
Ideally, TOTV would be a national law and apply to everyone, no matter their income level or employment status. And there’s a lot of hard work being done to ensure that happens. But any government or institution can make it happen: states, cities, towns, businesses—even college campuses!
Want to learn more about how to advocate for Time Off to Vote? Here are some resources to get you started. Just click on the boxes!
Whenever you’re trying to pass a new law or ordinance, it’s important to set clear timelines and goals. Take some time to brainstorm and create an action plan, laying it all out step by step.
If you’re a college student, one potential first step might be reaching out to all relevant faculty, administrators, or stakeholders at your school or, then scheduling a meeting with them to discuss the plan—and why you think it’s important.
Here are some additional resources we’ve developed to help you get started:
Power-mapping is a visual exercise (hence “map”) that helps you identify the key people, organizations, and stakeholders you can tap into to learn more about an issue—in this case, Time Off to Vote. The goal is to build a group or coalition guided by a common goal.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about power-mapping:
Social Media can be a powerful tool to advocate for change and create a project/campaign that others can easily access and participate in. Below are resources that you can use to develop social media campaigns around instating Time Off to Vote
When it comes to turning a policy idea into reality, creating a clear, concise, compelling narrative is key—especially when you’re trying to recruit people to your cause.
Below are some resources you can use to draft language for faculty members, community organizations, media, as well as peers and community members. We’ve even made a drafting document all about TOTV!
Finding others to join your movement and build a coalition with can be difficult. It’s even harder to keep it organized—and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Here are a few resources for how to build a coalition, how to manage it, as well as a database of organizations that you could partner with as you do this important work!